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2015 Renovation Cost Round-Up!

Renovation Costs 2015

I actually intended on doing a cost round-up of each room as we finish it, however we're yet to fully complete a room (although the bathroom is ridiculously close!) so I thought it might be a good idea to do a yearly cost-round up as well and what better time than the very end of 2015?

You can read about everything we've achieved over the last year in our home renovations in my last post here. But this one's all about costs! I know most people would prefer to keep costs (and earnings!) private, but I think it's the most important part of a renovation. It's easy to see a room transformation or stunning designs on Pinterest and think "we could/should do that!" but with little/no knowledge about how much an entire project would cost, it's difficult to turn that into a reality. One of the biggest things that put people of renovation/DIY is the unknown costs. How much does it cost to renovate a bathroom? To fit a new consumer unit? These things aren't easy to answer and short of getting a bazillion quotes, it can still be difficult to see the bigger picture. So, I'm not trying to 'show off' about our spending in any way, just share our experiences on how much a DIY-renovation project can cost you. Note the term: DIY-renovation.

We've certainly spent a fair amount over the past twelve months - we've renovated the bathroom which needless to say wasn't the cheapest of renovations and we definitely weren't too stringent on  cheaper fixtures and fittings. However, throughout this renovation year we have done around 99% of the work ourselves which has saved us a TON. Literally. Hence the 'DIY-renovation' terminology I'm using!

So, what have we spent over the last year? I'm actually going to include the last few months of 2014 in this cost round-up as well since I didn't do one for the first few months of renovation which we started at the end of 2014. So, here we go.....


Total Spend on Materials (excluding garden) £775
Includes things such as Plasterboard, Stud Timber, Pipes, Pipe Fittings, Paint, Skirting board, etc.


Total Spend on Tradesmen £680
Includes 3 separate tradesmen from electrical work and asbestos removal.


Total Spend on Fixtures/Fittings: £1050
Includes items such as bath tub, shower enclosure, electric shower unit, taps, fireplace, etc.


Total Spend in Garden £411
Includes Plants, Seeds, Decking, Pallet Wood, Lighting etc.


Total Renovation Costs 2015: £2916


Not too bad right?! That's around £250 a month which is what we budget monthly for our renovations  straight from the pay packet. It's slightly crazy to see how much we spent on three tradesmen (two which took less than an hour!) in comparison to materials. Really goes to show just how much more hiring someone to do the job costs!! Wowzer.


And a Few Other Costs...


Total Spend on Buying New Tools £373

Includes Lawnmower, DIY Vac, Saws, Trowels, Mitre Box etc.


Total Spend on new Furniture & Furnishings £787

Includes Sofa, Bed, Bean Bag (this was all from 2014 - no new furniture this year - boo!) 


I've listed these separately as they're all items that we get to keep should we ever sell up and move. However they are still very related to our renovation as without new tools we wouldn't have got very far. And likewise without new furniture/furnishings our rooms would be pretty empty! OK.. so most of them are still very empty, but you get my point right?! ;)

I'm quite surprised by the low cost of DIY tools. I feel like we've bought LOADS, but I guess most of them cost less £10 each so we've done pretty well here!

Most expensive purchases of 2015?
£400 on a new consumer unit and electric shower installation
£568 on our new sofa. Our old sofa cost a low £40 so this was a massive new luxury!


Most Discounted/Bargain Purchase of 2015?
£10 High Quality Standpipes from a private seller on eBay (retails at £150 via Victoria Plumb)!!
£169 on a new bed AND mattress. What a friggen bargain that was!


To add up everything above, we've spent a hefty £4076 over the last fifteen or so months on all things home/renovation related. I have no doubt we will be spending just as much over the next 12 months too. Argh, there's just never enough money!!

Do you track your spending during your renovations? 
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Renovations in 2015: What We've Achieved

2015, what a long year you've been - but still, not nearly long enough! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! With the festivities out the way, we're now looking forward to a new year - January marks our 18th month living in this old victorian renovation-project home and I'm so pleased that we have finally made serious head-way in the renovations. We've even finished an entire room! ...kind-of.

As we're beginning to plan what we want to achieve over the next year, I find it motivating to look back at the past year and all that we've achieved too.

So, what have we achieved over the last twelve months?

Bathroom

In January 2015 our bathroom was looking like this. It was unused, grotty and depressing awaiting a serious renovation makeover!

Bathroom Renovation

It now looks like this.

Modern Classic Victorian Bathroom

What an awesome transformation that I seriously couldn't be more chuffed about! We've plumbed, plastered, tiled, sanded and painted - to just name a few! And it was so so worth it. It was a long process, but I literally don't think I could be without this bathroom now. I'm so glad we made this our top priority in the house, splashed the cash and actually got the room completed this year. It's the only finished/nice room in the house and it's really given us the motivation to get on with the rest of the house!


Garden

Back in early 2015 our garden was looking much neater and more garden-like than it did in 2014, but it was still looking very much in-progress. We'd only recently grown grass to make a lawn and the dog-proof fence was still up, meaning the garden hadn't even been properly used yet! Elsewhere, bags of rubble were yet to be taken to the skip and generally it was looking quite scruffy. Not to mention we still didn't own a mower...

Scurry Garden during Renovation

Now, it looks like this.

Garden in Renovation

Pallet Seating at Night with Fairy Lights

We've fitted an outdoor pallet sofa, which I freaking LOVEEE! We've also fitted a raised decking planter bed against the right wall to add some much needed privacy between our garden and the road. The climbers have certainly made a huge difference and oh-my how fast they've grown! We've also rendered the brick border at the back of the garden which has made it look so much more modern and finished and we've even had the asbestos shed taken away too. There's still much left to complete out here, but we've certainly made huge progress this year!


Spare Bedroom

Just a few months ago this room was totally empty, with peeling wallpaper, floral carpets and it was a room that had no purpose or love.

Spare bedroom renovation

Only a couple of months on, this room is already taking transformation! 

Progress during a Renovation

Actually, it no longer looks like this. But I thought I'd save the finished (or semi-finished) results for a proper post! ;) We do still have a little left to achieve, but what this room needs most is filling with stuff. It needs a bed, a desk, shelves and pictures. It will soon be a lovely little room that will get heaps of usage as a office-come-guest bedroom. I cannot wait!


Surprise Bathroom Makeover

Whilst this isn't one of the renovations on our home - I couldn't possibly not include it! This was a massive job and not one I wish to ever do again. What am I talking about? The week this room...

bathroom renovation

....Became this room.

Small bathroom  renovation

We had just five days to completely renovate a bathroom for Grants parents and it was beyond hectic and stressful. It wasn't exactly the 'makeover' I used in the title, no, this was a complete rip-it-all-out and start again job. I'm pleased to see the back of this project. I think I'll be sticking to our own renovations from now! ...Famous last words.

Let's see what 2016 brings! What have you achieved this year in your home?
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Wishing You a Wonderful Christmas!

I apologise for my blog being a bit quiet recently, it's been all-go here and I haven't had a lot of free time. I did have a few little Christmassy-DIYs planned, but the reality of renovating your home, keeping up a day-job (or night job, in my case) and trying to get extra little crafty things done on the side is far from easy and even more challenging during such a busy season!

And so, I've decided to take a little blogging break over the next two weeks, meaning this shall be my last post before Christmas. We'll be spending our Christmas over at Grants parents this year, which happily means we don't have to spend the day without a cooker since our halogen one is days away from total failure. Can you guess what's on my January Sale Wish List?

I have loads of awesome stuff planned for the coming year (post coming shortly after christmas!) and can't wait to begin new adventures in DIY and our home reno. If you'd like to keep up with our renovations over the next couple of weeks, you can follow me via Instagram at 'Kezzabeth_Blog'. But for now, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and I shall be back again on the 28th :)

I shall leave you with this less than inspiring photo of this years Christmas Tree, squished into the only available corner of our lounge that isn't filled with DIY equipment or storage boxes from moving day. Ah, renovation life eh?

Christmas During a Renovation Project

Have a Wonderful Christmas :)


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Hiding Pipes Behind Skirting

Boxing In Pipework Behind Skirting

One niggling thing about the smallest bedroom is that it contains the water tank/immersion heater (whatever you choose to call it!) - not only is this a giant waste of good bedroom space(!!) but it also means the pipes run through the bedroom. I hate visible pipe and I also hate excessive pipe-boxing. As a reminder, here's what it looked like before:

Boxed Pipework in Bedroom

Whilst I haven't shown it there - the original boxing was a good few cm's taller than the rest of the skirting around the room. I mentioned in this post how I had hoped to move these pipes underneath the floorboards. Well, after further investigation we realised they weren't made from copper. They appear to be either galvanised steel or lead. Whilst this doesn't mean we couldn't move the pipes, it meant moving them would be more tricky as both steel and lead are much harder to cut and you can't use a normal pipe cutter. Both are poor choices for pipes (they corrode on the inside and reduce water pressure) and it would have made more sense to replace the entire pipe. To add to this, we realised the location of the pipes was in a very tricky position as well - the joists run against the direction of pipes, so we would have to chisel out sections of every joist and whilst this isn't the end of the world it does mean more work. On top of that, where the pipes would need re-connecting inside the cupboard - the space was tight, awkward and a we realised the whole job would be a total faff as it would also mean tracing the pipe throughout the house to replace the entire damn thing.

Steel Pipes boxed in

Since we don't yet have a boiler and we don't know exactly what kind of boiler we're going to opt for (if we can ever afford to!), we don't even know if this water tank will forever be here. So making a massive job of something that may eventually be redundant seemed unnecessary. So, I changed my mind. We decided to keep the pipes on-top of the floorboard but re-box them behind some skirting so that the new boxing won't look totally out of place in the room. It should just look like a thicker piece of skirting.

Behind the old boxing we found the words "Forest for the Cup 1959" written upon it, which I assume refers to Nottingham Forest and some kind of Football Cup. However it's a great indication of how old this pipework!! Freaking OLD. I also found a bit of old newspaper which was dated 1951. Mega mega old.

Forest for the Cup 1959

Finding some skirting that matched up to the old skirting was something of a nightmare. The nearest match I could get still wasn't quite a match. Small things that bug me. The old skirting board was still attached to the wall behind the pipes which meant I couldn't firmly attach the new boxing to the wall without drilling through and ruining the old skirting board, which I really didn't want to do. Keeping it nice means we can hopefully re-use it one day when these pipes are gone or replaced.

Old Steel Pipes

So I opted for glue. Not exactly a very secure way to fit boxing though, I must admit. I attached a small piece of strip wood to the new skirting using a bit of glue and a few small screws trying my very hardest not to split the wood.

Using Skirting boards to box in pipes

I then realised the strip wood I picked up wasn't quite wide enough, mega annoying. Since I had already been faffing about all day trying to find some matching skirting I decided to just improvise and stick another piece of strip wood to the original piece before attaching it to the top of the old skirting which yes, is the most rubbish way to compete this job! This means it's not very secure in any sense of the word.

skirting board boxed in

However, the bit that does secure the boxing is the screws that I placed through the new skirting into the old strips of wood which are attached to the floor. This pulls the whole thing together against the wall and stops any movement but yes, that top piece is less than firmly attached. Let's just say, you wouldn't want to stand on this!

pipes behind skirting board

The new pipe boxing looks even wider than the original boxing as the skirting board is around 2cm thick but it's now much shorter in height and looks less obviously boxy.... at least from a distance!

boxed in pipes behind skirting board

hidden pipes in bedroom

I added some caulk where it was needed, but it still requires some filler as well which I'll do as I repair some of the other skirting boards in the room.

boxing in pipes behind skirting board

In whole, it's probably not my finest work, step on this and it'll fall apart! The skirting doesn't match which bugs me and the whole thing is really thick which means you'll never be able to push furniture against the wall without there being a 6cm gap. Small things that bug me, but for a temporary measure, I can live with it and it does look a little neater and more 'finished' than it did before. I'd still rather those damn pipes either gone altogether or under the floor though! One day, one day.

skirting board hiding pipework in bedroom

Do you hate pipes that don't run under the floor as much as I do?

COSTS

(rounded to the nearest pound)


New Tools Purchased:
None


Materials Used:
Skirting (cost for a 4-pack) £33
Strip Wood £8
Glue from previous jobs
Screws from previous jobs


Total: £41

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Repairing Cracks in a Lath and Plaster Ceiling

How to Repair Cracks in a Lath and Plaster Ceiling

Progress continues in the smallest bedroom! It's been a pretty hectic month so far, so progress is far less than I would have liked. But non-the-less, we are making some progress and this week I tackled the cracked ceiling.

When we renovated the bathroom, we chose to pull the entire ceiling down. It was horrendous. Seriously horrendous. Let me just give you a little reminder...

Removing Lath and Plaster Ceiling

Ohmygod it was horrible. It took two days to pull down and about a month to remove every inch of dust that had consumed the entire upstairs! But pulling down the ceiling was kind of necessary - not just for dealing with the cracks but it also allowed us to fit the in-line extractor fan without creating a crawl hole in the attic room, which would have been equally as bad in a room we didn't yet want to renovate.

This time around, I was desperate to create as little dust as possible. The problem with lath and plaster ceilings is that they're super liable to cracking. This causes movement between the plaster and laths as the plaster begins to pull away, which can eventually lead to part of the ceiling collapsing. Ideally they "should" be replaced - I know our neighbour replaced all of hers some years ago - however it's also a bit of a shame to remove something so original. Let's face it, that kind of plastering must have required a lot more work and skill than nowadays plastering techniques and I think it's quite nice to keep the original building techniques! So we decided to repair the ceiling instead. (Plus, did I mention I hate dust?!)

We gave the existing ceiling a good inspection first to see how much movement there was. You can easily do this by just pressing on the plaster in several locations. Particularly around the cracks you might notice the plaster easily moves up and down. Depending on how much movement determines just how loose the plaster has become. If it's loose, it's quite likely to re-crack and perhaps even eventually fall down. We planned to patch these areas with plasterboard, however ours actually wasn't that bad. There was some movement, but you had to really give a good push to notice, so we decided not to remove any plaster at all.

I'd read a few different ways to repair ceiling cracks in lath and plaster ceilings, so if you're looking to repair yours, you might want to do a bit more research to see which way is best for you - but here's how I did ours...

Cracks in Lath and Plaster ceiling

I cut out along the crack using a regular safety knife. This allowed me to remove any loose debris and plaster that was being held along the crack, so that when I fill it, I can really push the filler into the gap and hopefully secure the plaster either side of the crack together. If I had just filled over the crack then I really wouldn't have been fixing the problem and it would definitely have been more prone to re-cracking.

filling ceiling cracks

I used jointing filler to fill up the cracks. This stuff is basically a much thicker and stronger kind of poly-filler. It's meant for filling cracks in between plasterboard (with scrim tape), which in my mind is pretty much the same as filling a crack in plaster right?! This stuff also dries super fast so you have to work with it quickly or else you'll waste heaps of filler and need to keep mixing the stuff every 20 minutes or so.

repairing ceiling cracks

A couple of hours later I was able to give it a good sand before going back over with the filler in any locations that needed a touch up to level the crack against the rest of the ceiling. You can already see it's looking better!

ceiling cracks repaired

Things to note: it does still get quite dusty. The poly-filler kind of dust. Still not quite as bad as plaster dust though!

polyfiller dust

dusty room from polyfiller

Eurgh! I also recommend wearing a hat since the dust falls directly from above you, this will seriously save your hair from totally drying out and turning into a mega ruin! Of course make sure to wear a dust mask and goggles too!

And voila, the ceiling now looks totally crack-free! Actually I'm dead impressed. It's a little lumpy in some locations where the crack was a bit more sunken, but for the most part I think once painted you would never know there had been a giant crack. Success!

ceiling cracks repaired

lath and plaster ceiling crack repair

sealing cracks in lath and plaster

progress on bedroom renovation

I think the next thing on the to-do list in this room is opening up the chimney. Not more dust!

Do you have lath and plaster ceilings? How have you repaired/fixed/removed yours?
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8 Hours in Copenhagen

8 Hours in Copenhagen

As we spend most our time either working or renovating, a few months ago we decided to make more time to travel. Not only do I love to travel anyway, but it's also a great way to actually take a break from the work.

I love Christmas markets and after having visited the one in Nottingham for oh, only ten years in a row, I was determined to go somewhere new this year. Somewhere abroad. Obviously Germany was my top choice, but money rules here and flights to Germany weren't cheap. Copenhagen was cheap! Plus, it's only an hour away (AN HOUR!) with quick links to the city from the airport and several flights throughout the day. It was the perfect day-trip getaway material.

We spent just £40 on flights for the both of us; that's just £10 a ticket each way, can you get more bargain than that?!

So here's how we spent 8 hours in Copenhagen...


Nyhavn (New Square)

We arrived in Copenhagen city centre around 11.30am and of course, our first port-of-call was Nyhavn, which hosts the most iconic imagery of Copenhagen - colourful buildings and a waterfront canal. It's stunning! I knew I needed a photo of this whilst the sun was still up and I'm so glad we went here first as my nighttime images just did not do it justice! This area also had the most stunning restaurant fronts and despite Denmark generally being a colder climate than the UK, there was the most lovely outdoor seating areas, complete with patio heaters and blankets draped over every chair for you to wrap up in! It was super cute and cosy and I think we desperately need this kind of lifestyle in the UK! 

Nyhavn Copenhagen in December

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Restaurants in Nyhavn

Outdoor seating in copenhagen

Kongens Nytorv (Kings Square)

This is where I was led to believe the Christmas market would be located. However the square was under some kind of construction and definitely didn't resemble a "square" as it been completely bordered off. It was a bit of a shame, however this did mean that the market was much more spread out across the whole city. We followed the Christmas lights and came across several clumps of stalls in different locations. There were many similar stalls to what we have in the UK, but also some unique different ones too! Of course you can't visit a Christmas market without sampling some Mulled Wine - In Copenhagen they actually add a shot of rum and call it glogg, but we opted for the non-alcoholic version ;)

Christmas Market in Copenhagen

Christmas Market in Copenhagen

Glogg in Copenhagen

Ferris Wheel in Copenhagen

Christmas Markets


Rundetarn (Round Tower)

This is the oldest observatory tower in Europe. It has the most beautiful spiralling sloped floor that circles to the top (which stupidly I didn't photograph, dammit!). Despite the tower only being around 30m tall, you actually walk something around 200m due to the spiral, crazy! Upon reaching the top, there's a glass floor through the centre of the building allowing you to see the 30m down drop. Maybe not great for someone with vertigo, but totally cool otherwise!! And of course, there are the fabulous views over Copenhagen, for just 25DKK per person (£2.50) this definitely shouldn't be missed!

Round Tower in Copenhagen

Views from Rundetarn


Rosenborg Castle & Gardens

We only had a quick walk around the Castle and Gardens, but from what we did see, twas beautiful. I love massive open spaces inside cities and this one did not disappoint. We didn't go inside the castle as it was quite pricey at 90DKK (£9.00) per person, but walking around the outside was totally free and great for a lovely little stroll with our mulled wines!

Rosenborg Castle and Gardens

Danishes

It wouldn't be a trip to Denmark without eating lots of danishes! We made sure to try as many as we could possibly fit in our bellies. Danish shops are a plenty and they're packed with locals collecting orders. The danishes are all quite large in size and ridiculously filling so I didn't get to eat as much as I had hoped, but oh my goodness were they amazing!! I wish I had bought a bazillion home with me. My mouth is drooling at the thought. They were also pretty cheap too, at just around 10-20DKK per piece (£1-£2). Don't they look delicious?!

Danishes in Denmark

Danishes in Denmark


Shopping

Shopping in Copenhagen certainly isn't limited, and oh-my-goodness do they have the most incredible interior shops I've ever seen! And there was so so many of them! If I ever win the lottery, this would be must top go-to destination to shop for interiors. There was lot of scandi interior pieces as well... just so much amazingness! Sadly we didn't buy anything (not a single thing, boo!) since this trip was on a mega budget, but I so damn wish I could have bought everything. And I mean everything. These shops were CRAZY busy, it was how I imagine Christmas shopping in NYC.

Interior Shops in Copenhagen

Christmas Shops in Copenhagen

Style in Copenhagen, Denmark

Shopping in Copenhagen

Flower Market stall in copenhagen

christmas in copenhagen


We left the city of Copenhagen around 7.30pm ready for our flight back to the UK. It was a pretty long day, but so so worth it! One thing that stood out about Copenhagen was that it really isn't a major touristy city. The tower we went up was virtually deserted and even at Nyhavn there was only a few small groups taking photographs along the canal, as opposed to the hundreds we've experienced at other European Cities. I think this made it feel like a very genuine city without too much of the gimmicky-ness.

The one place we didn't visit, which I wish we had done - was Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park and garden. Sadly it costs 90DKK (£9.00) per person just to enter and then rides and other attractions are additional costs inside. At Christmas time the gardens are decorated to the max, which was the main thing I wanted to see there. We actually saw a little peak through the gates and it truly did look stunning, but we couldn't really justify the price. Maybe next time!


Have you ever been to a European Christmas market? I'd love some recommendations for next year!

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